Eduardo Freire Rodrigues, CEO at UpHill Health tells us about where healthcare professionals boost their skills.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Eduardo Freire Rodrigues: All good: healthy and safe, it is all we can ask for in the middle of a pandemic.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded UpHill Health.
Eduardo Freire Rodrigues: I’m a physician focused on making healthcare safer, by building the tools that empower people to always provide and receive the best care. Early on, I learned how to code at the age of 14 and became passionate about it since then. In 2015, alongside two colleagues, we decided to embrace the challenge of healthcare quality by making use of our technical knowledge and founding UpHill.
Our drive to create UpHill began to take shape during our practical years as physicians since we identified three correlated issues in the health sector: the huge amount of scientific evidence that is produced daily; the lack of time that health professionals have to update and transpose new recommendations for their clinical practice, and, consequently, an imbalance between what are the best recommendations and everyday care decisions.
How does UpHill Health innovate?
Eduardo Freire Rodrigues: Our purpose is all about positively impacting health outcomes. UpHill is a startup developing the tools health teams need to provide the best care to a specific patient, considering all the variables that characterize clinical routines: limited time and resources.
We know that the health sector is complex: every patient is different, and every care unit has limited resources. However, the core of patient care is processes supported by relevant evidence, and those should be uniformly implemented. In our academic and professional experience, we have never been satisfied with the most common healthcare settings, that differ within and between hospitals. At the same time, we found that there are no tools to simultaneously support decisions/behavioral change towards the best practices and optimize healthcare professionals’ time.
UpHill has an innovative approach to the problem concerned since we focus on clinical pathways to drive healthcare teams standardizing healthcare. While most of our competitors are focused on replacing healthcare professionals with automatic decision systems, we aim to empower them through advanced training and clinical decision support tools.
Through a single platform, healthcare professionals have access to the whole process behind any clinical decision, with curated scientific papers, simplified clinical pathways, and virtual simulations to train. Health teams increase the adoption of recommended best practices; thus, patients are safer and are more likely to receive evidence-based care.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Eduardo Freire Rodrigues: 2020 was a challenging year for all sectors and many companies. UpHill was no exception but having in mind the sector in which we operate and our consolidated growth in recent years, this period was excellent to demonstrate our product’s value.
Our core business is to create resources that combine theoretical knowledge with practical decision-making. Since March, we have been developing these resources – clinical pathways and clinical cases – focusing on COVID-19, to help frontline doctors and nurses to approach a new disease.
In this critical period, we reinforced relationships with our customers and kept expanding internationally. As such, our annual revenue registered a fivefold increase with new projects through Europe.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Eduardo Freire Rodrigues: At UpHill we are excited with impact-driven, free-thinking, fast-learning, and self-surpassing individuals and as a small company, everyone is expected to be impactful! Last year, we doubled our team, and the main challenge was to develop an onboarding process remotely.
Remote working sounds like the COVID-19 holy grail but it’s not something you can simply switch to and hope for the best. There are downsides to remote work and several challenges to overcome, as well. Communication, collaboration between teams, project management, task tracking, and team motivation are some of the most mentioned by employees. We have found tools and strategies to overcome these issues and promote an effective and efficient remote collaboration.
In a broader sense, reacting, readjusting priorities, and quickly delivering, without compromising the scientific quality of our products, was also challenging.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Eduardo Freire Rodrigues: Since UpHill develops tailormade solutions, it is critical to understand our customer needs and particularities. Thus, as a company, we promote strong and close relationships. This was something that we kept during coronavirus lockdown, finding digital channels to overtake social distancing measures and keep regular touchpoints with hospitals and pharma. We now have projects from Greece to the Nordics, which were kicked off fully remote.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Eduardo Freire Rodrigues: No, we have not received any grant from the government and our revenue has been enough to keep our business striving.
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